Tuesday, October 1, 2013

World's top hotels offer service, location. amenities,style

When the hotel siren sings seductive songs, answer the call and book yourself in!

Las Vegas has some of the world's top hotels, and the Strip is home to many of them.   Our travelers like hotels
 that reflect their cities. Here, gaudy glitter appeals -- as shown by New York New York's mimicking skyline. 

Today, we begin a three-part look at some of our favorite hotels, highlighting a few of the world's top ranked properties, and why they appeal. The series continues with our next two posts.
Remember to explore, learn and live, and visit us Wednesdays and Saturdays at:


I LOVE a grand hotel.
Give me a room with a view, a comfy king bed, tasteful decor with eye-catching art and 24-hour room service. Slippers, a robe, deep bathtub, wine chilling and I'm in heaven.
 The Spanish Steps in Rome drew our travelers to the Hassler.
My love affair with fine hotels began as a teen when my grandmother invited me to spend the night at the Northern Hotel in Billings.  I remember plush red velvet curtains in the dining room -- giving it the look of a bordello (although I didn't know what bordellos were in those days).
The ambiance was romantic and although I was too young to appreciate that aspect of grand hotels, I drank it in.  Couples danced to jazz in the bar where we had a drink -- cokes for me and my sister, bourbon for Gran. An organist played tango music in the lobby as we entered the elevator and as we stepped into the suite, we delighted in fresh flowers, a huge bathroom, separate sitting area and chocolates on the pillow.
MY GRANDPARENTS were regulars at the hotel and the manager made certain we were upgraded.

 The sleek Altis Belem in Lisbon is a  stylish, contemporary hotel
within walking distance to the Belem Tower,
 a Lisbon landmark.
A welcoming outdoor cafe beckons guests to drink in the waterfront air.
So there we three were, perusing the room service menu in the Northern, having a slumber party in our robes. Gran, my sister Peny and I ordered French dip sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, fruit platters and creme brule.
We watched TV until midnight -- "Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip" -- and nibbled on our room service.   After a day of music lessons and a matinee (it was "Psycho," and the infamous Bates Motel bore no resemblance to our palatial digs in the Northern) we lazed about.
THAT WAS in the early 1960s, and in the 50 years since then, I've developed a "10 Best Hotels." My ranking system is purely personal and entirely subjective.  I consider my initial impression and the treatment we receive at registration.  I consider my first impression of the hotel's design -- is the art tasteful and calming. Does the room provide a view -- of the park, the ocean, or something equally pleasing. Does the bellman offer to bring
 Barcelona's famous Sagrada Familia is a reason to pick
a hotel within walking distance. 
ice right away?
IS THE CONCIERGE available for booking theater tickets or city tours?
If we're on a club floor, are there liberal hours, with breakfast and afternoon hors d'oeuvres.
If we're in a new city or unknown part of town, safety is a consideration.
I want a coffee maker with good coffee, a newspaper delivered in the morning and left discreetly out the door.  I want a robe and slippers, a good restaurant within the hotel or within easy walking distance, a frig for chilling the wine, a big bathtub for soaking.
 I ask for a map at registration and determine if we can easily and safely walk to the beach, park, theater, festival, museum or bistro. (In Ashland, Oregon, the Ashland Springs is a block from the three-theater Oregon Shakespeare Festival.)
I love neighborhoods, and hotels with character make themselves part of the neighborhood. We were steps from the Gaudi House and Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona's Ayre Hotel and could gaze daily at their intricate mosaics.
In Las Vegas, I like to look down on the strip,  watching the New York Skyline light up or strolling a few blocks to gaze upon the Eifel Tower, Vegas style of course.
 Rome's fabled Trevi Fountain is walking distance from the famous
Hassler Hotel, which attracts our travelers for its elegance and proximity.

MY FAVORITE hotels have unique features, charming touches, special appeal..
The Dorchester in London was a favorite of Elizabeth Taylor's. Rock stars and classical musicians love it. Members of the Royal Family have wined and dined in its glamorous banquet rooms. Hyde Park is across the street and Mayfair with its shops and eateries awaits.
The Hotel Westminster in Paris has location in spades - - you're out the door a few blocks to the magical monuments and museums of Paris.
The Le Meridien Bora Bora has bungalows on the water with glass floors for viewing manta rays and brightly colored schools of fish. The hotel says, "You're in French Polynesia now.  Relax, enjoy."
 The Ashland Springs Hotel in Ashland, Oregon, is steps away from
the city's internationally known Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo has the feeling of Brazil in its native inspired artwork and an international clientele to appreciate its woodwork and service.
The Hassler in Rome atop the Spanish Steps has proximity to many of Rome's historical delights, including a short walk to the fabled Trevi Fountain.  It also boasts stunning, old-world architecture and is filled with beautiful tapestries, fountains and paintings.
Just a pleasant taxi ride out the door of Sao Paulo's
elegant Grand Hyatt, Cookie and Keller enjoy the market. 
I like hotels that reflect their city's environment. In Lisbon, we love the Altis Belem, for its gorgeous harbor view on the Tagus River and its contemporary design. It's also a short walk to the Belem Castle and Monument of Discoveries, both world landmarks. The Altis Belem exhibits the city's rich connection to the sea.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok displays fine taste and elegance with a tux-clad string quartet in the lobby.
The 1904 Gaudi House in Barcelona is a draw
to our travelers, who chose a nearby, elegant hotel.
In Teton Village, closer to home, the Alpenhof offers old-world service in a spectacular setting. Alpine inspired paintings and a gourmet breakfast are two of the enticements, along with genuinely friendly welcome.
 When people say, "Who cares where we stay? We're never in our room," I disagree.
I spend hours in my room.  It's part of my vacation. I care very much where I stay. I want my hotel to be beautiful, full of charm and beauty, reflective of the culture of the city it inhabits.

COMING  SATURDAY: More about why we like specific hotels and what entices us and keeps us loyal. Location, location, location is part of the charm. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us our Wednesdays and weekends at:

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